How Dogs Can Sense When You’re Feeling Sick

Photo by Matthew Henry

Can Dogs Sense When You’re Feeling Sick? Have you ever noticed that your dog keeps close to your side when you’re feeling under the weather? A lot of pet owners admit that their dogs often lay near them or give them more love than usual when they are ill.

Whether it’s the common cold or something more serious, they have a way of sensing when there is something not quite right with you. However, a lot of people don’t realize how or why their dogs give them extra comfort when they are ill.

When it comes to knowing when their owners are ill, there are a number of ways that dogs can sense it. It can be as simple as noticing that you look and move differently, all the way to sniffing that something is wrong with their sense of smell. This, in particular, is what service dogs are trained to do to help people with chronic illnesses, and they are even being used to help detect cancer.

Using Their Sense of Smell

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. In fact, theirs is a million times stronger than the average humans, which means they can use that sense of smell to know when we aren’t feeling well. Our bodies go through chemical changes when we aren’t feeling well, such as a reduction in serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

These hormones make us happy and dogs can notice the drop with their smell, often picking up on our lack of energy. This prompts them to want to make their owners happy by lying next to them and giving them love with kisses. Dogs will sense your happiness increase when they are near you, consequently making them want to be around you more until you feel normal again.

Some breeds have a better sense of smell than others and will often become service dogs. These dogs are trained to detect any changes in a person’s blood sugar and alert the owners that have diabetes or hypoglycemia when they are high or low. The service dogs even have the ability to help people with narcolepsy get to a safe place before they fall asleep suddenly and can even detect migraines before they happen.

Watching Their Owners Expressions

Dogs tend to like watching their owners, with a particular emphasis on their facial expressions. People often say that it’s as if their animals can understand them, which might actually be true. Research has taken place to show that dogs can recognize if their owners are angry, happy or sad, and it may also be the case for when they’re feeling ill. It has been proven that when people smile at their dogs, it makes them happy and they wag their tail. But when they make an angry face or frown, the dog will be weary and often back away.

Owners that have a deep bond with their dog may find that their dogs become more loving after reading their expression and realizing they aren’t feeling well.

Changes in Routine

Once you’ve had a dog in your life for a while, they get used to the routine that you set. They always seem to know when it’s time to be fed and what your usual bedtime is. Because they are so attuned to this, they will notice the slightest change when something isn’t right with you.

If you stay in bed a little longer than usual and move about slowly, they will pick up on it and know you aren’t feeling well. Once they realize that their owner isn’t feeling normal, they will try and cheer them up by showing them affection.

People with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder often have service dogs with them, who can detect when they are feeling anxious or paranoid. When an episode is coming on, the dogs will be there to provide emotional support and company until they are feeling better.

The next time you notice your dog giving you more affection and attention than normal when you’re ill, return the favor. Not only will it make them feel like they are doing something right, it will also make you feel better in the long run.

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